Jan Chase, co-owner of StoneGate Furniture Consignment Gallery in Killeen with her husband, Mick, does more than just collect and sell gently used, high-quality furniture.
She is a caretaker of the memories that each piece carries with it when it enters her shop.
“There is a story with every piece that comes into the store,” she said. “People inherit their parents’ and grandparents’ stuff, other people come in and the memories are hard to part with.”
Some people even become emotional as they leave behind a beloved piece of furniture that was in their family for years. Then there are the customers who come into the store and see a chair or a table that reminds them of their childhood, feeling a connection to their mother or grandmother who once had a similar piece. They intend to come back to buy it but by the time they return, the piece is sold.
“We move things around and then someone sees it,” Jan said. “As things leave, new things come in. It’s more than furniture, it’s people’s stories, people’s lives.”
Since Dec. 1, 2011, Jan and Mick, and her sister Robin Carpio and her husband, Danny, have been taking in gently used, quality furniture on consignment.
“Everyone has a different gift,” Jan said. “Robin is the best on the computer and with staging. Mick and Dan run the store. Kimberly, our newest team member, handles the marketing and advertising. My favorite job is hanging art on the walls every day.”
“We make it all work together,” Robin said. “We can get furniture from 10 different families and it all works together.”
“I love being here, seeing the people who come in here, and I love being around beautiful things,” added Hurley.
Jan said their hope is to find the right person who can appreciate the furniture that once meant so much to someone else.
An invention of necessity
The idea for a furniture consignment store was an invention of necessity. In 2009, the Chases moved back to Texas when the homebuilding market in Washington State took a severe downturn and Mick became unemployed. They decided to move near Jan’s family in Killeen. It was a central location while Mick looked for construction work in the Central Texas area and in North Texas, near where they raised their family in Sherman.
“We weren’t able to find employment in any of those places, and at the same time we realized my Mom could no longer continue to function without someone meeting many of hers and dads needs,” said Jan, a Killeen High School graduate. Her parents were elderly and her mom suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
To stay in Killeen, however, Jan and Mick said they had to find a way to make a living doing something they enjoy, and be able to take care of her parents. That’s when Jan and Robin got the idea to start a consignment furniture business out of Robin’s home. Each woman was a picker in her own right. They would find furniture at garage sales and resale shops. They would refinish, repurpose, reupholster, if necessary, and resell it at staged estate sales. As their inventory grew, the living space in Robin’s home shrunk. Soon there was only a path she and her family had to walk through and around the furniture she stored. They knew it was time to think brick and mortar.
“We started to visit consignment shops from San Antonio to Amarillo, and every town in between,” Jan said. “We found that if it was a clothing consignment shop overhead was greater than if it was a furniture store.”
Jan said they had their eye on one property in south Killeen when their current location on Stan Schlueter Loop became available. Their shop is a collection of fine, gently used quality furniture that comes from various places. Sometimes it’s the reassigned soldier and his family, but they don’t want to take the furniture with them; or the grandmother who died and her family wants to make sure the furniture gets another life with a new family.
The furniture is a juxtaposition of antique, modern, contemporary and sometimes rustic. The shop displays the furniture in vignettes that best show off the settings. A person could walk in and buy a whole room with one glance.
Jan said she enjoys helping people, especially military families. They can furnish just a room, or a house, with high quality goods at a lower price than retail.
“People have called from as far away as Korea and Germany who saw things on our Facebook page and asked us to hold it until they come in,” Jan said. “If they find something used and it wears well, if it doesn’t make it to their next assignment, it’s not as great a loss. We want to be an option for people.”